Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback Breakdown: Complete Depth Chart Analysis

Andrew Dunn@atdu222Correspondent IIMay 15, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 05:  Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass against the Houston Texans during their AFC Wild Card Playoff Game at Reliant Stadium on January 5, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

It is no secret who will be under center in Cincinnati when Week 1 rolls around in September. Andy Dalton will be entering his third year in Black and Orange and thus far, he's done a pretty good job staying healthy and on the field (barring his very first game as a rookie).

What does that mean? Well, besides the fact that Dalton is pretty durable, it also means that he's been fairly lucky. Football is a tough game—a lot of quarterbacks get roughed up. So it does matter who will be on the depth chart in September.

Right now, the depth chart lists four guys at the quarterback position.



Andy Dalton

To say that Andy Dalton has been a savior of sorts in Cincinnati would not be inaccurate.  Right behind A.J. Green, he's probably the most popular guy on this team, and for good reason.  The former second-round selection listened to all the criticism about how bad the Bengals would be in 2011 amid his limited skill and the Carson Palmer controversy.

Two seasons later, the Red Rifle has seen the playoffs twice and has Cincinnati on the verge of being a perennial powerhouse in the AFC.

Unfortunately, there are those that have Dalton on a short leash in 2013.  Last season, he showed a disturbing tendency to throw balls into traffic, culminating in several pick-sixes.  

He's not a guy that will kill you down the field (unless he's chucking it up to A.J. Green), so short passes across the middle is his bread and butter.  He managed to prove in 2012 that he isn't always so accurate with even those passes.

Still, there is no danger for Dalton this season.  None of the guys on the depth chart are good enough to overtake him, so he's going to see all of the playing time.  

While I see the point of those that have him on a short leash, you have to tip your hat to the guy—in two seasons, he's completed 60% of his passes for over 7,000 yards.  Additionally, he's thrown 47 touchdowns and 29 interceptions, a decent ratio.

I'm usually pretty quick to criticize, but not with Dalton.  While he has bad tendencies, so do Eli Manning and Joe Flacco, both Super Bowl champions.  This should be Dalton's breakout season, thus solidifying his role as the Bengals quarterback of the future. 



Josh Johnson

The scariest part about Johnson is that he spent 2012 out of the NFL.  From 2009 to 2011, he saw time sparingly in Tampa Bay, but wasn't really used for his passing prowess. 

Johnson is a much more talented runner than passer.  Stats don't indicate that he would be incredibly great either way, but every player has their use.  He appeared in 11 games in 2010, and completed 87.5 percent of his passes—sounds impressive, but he completed 14 of 16 passes.

His biggest indication as a quarterback came back in 2009 when he was a rookie.  He completed barely over 50 percent of his passes for 685 yards, while throwing four touchdowns and eight picks.

Those numbers aren't really jumping off the page.  However, I don't anticipate seeing Johnson on the roster to be a true backup quarterback.  He will probably be listed as the backup, but he may be seen in certain situations to run the football.

Is that generally a part of the Jay Gruden offense? Not really.  But, with Skelton more of a passer and Johnson more of a runner, the more useful of the two is Johnson.  It's not a secret that Andy Dalton can throw the ball, but Johnson could be of use in third-down plays out of the shotgun to take off running. 

It's not the best situation as a backup quarterback, but Johnson's versatility will keep him on the team.



John Skelton

Cincinnati acquired Skelton back in April to continue their search for a viable backup behind Dalton.  While this certainly throws another name into the hat, to call it "viable" would probably be inaccurate.

Over the past three seasons, Skelton has seen quite a bit of time with the Arizona Cardinals.  While he saw a good amount of victories in 2011, his stats certainly don't reflect it.  In 20 games since 2010, Skelton's career completion percentage is 53.2 and he has not managed to throw for 4,000 yards.

He has 15 touchdowns and 25 interceptions, perhaps the most troubling of all.  That comes out to a 26.4 QBR.  

None of these suggest that Skelton would be successful in a starting role, but the good part about having him is that he comes with experience.  He worked with Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona, so he could benefit even more from A.J. Green.

What Skelton needs to do is improve his accuracy and decision-making.  He's certainly got the arm and the size to be a good quarterback, but making bad decisions with the ball is what caused him to throw two touchdowns and nine picks in 2012.  

I expect to see Skelton on the roster when the final one is put out, and it's very likely he could take the backup spot from Josh Johnson, who has a completely different style of play.  



Zac Robinson

As of now, it is unclear whether or not Robinson will be on the roster a few months from now.  There will likely be a three-man competition for the backup slot, and Robinson is probably the long shot.

He has yet to appear in any NFL game since coming into the league in 2010.

At Oklahoma State, Robinson had some decent seasons, particularly in 2008 when he completed 65 percent of his passes for over 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns.  Compare that to only 10 interceptions.  However, he greatly benefited from having Dez Bryant as one of his receivers.  

For Robinson, his biggest issue is that he was known more for his mobility as a quarterback at Oklahoma State.  There were several games throughout his career as a Cowboy where he carried the ball double-digit times.  Naturally, that hasn't translated to the NFL.  

Now, I do realize that Andy Dalton was quite mobile at TCU, but Dalton has (and had) a much better arm and mind for the position.

While Robinson's 2008 season was impressive, he really hasn't given anyone any reason to believe he could be a starting quarterback in the NFL.  While he will be a part of the competition, I'd be surprised to even see him on the team in August.  


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